15 Hidden In-Venue Marketing Opportunities Revealed

Restaurant marketing is not only limited to social media tactics or email marketing. Sometimes, you have to look at the smaller picture- your very own restaurant! Our friends from Buzztime mention some of the best in-venue marketing opportunities you can adopt.

You’re going on a scavenger hunt – through your own venue. Your mission? To uncover 15 powerful, on-premises marketing opportunities. From a photo booth for less than $200 to restaurant tablets that upsell, your next best marketing campaign is within reach…if you know where to look.

Start at the Table

Up your marketing game with coasters, table tents, and tabletop restaurant tablets.

1) Creative Coasters

Design and print your own creative coasters with one of these marketing ideas. P.S. Don’t forget to use both sides.

  • Encourage Social Media Sharing

FRONT: Take Your Pic (Facebook and Instagram logos)

BACK: Tag #YourBarorRestaurantName

  • Promote a Special

FRONT: Want another round?

BACK: “Ask about 2-for-1 specials”

  • Upsell Dessert

FRONT: Thirsty for dessert?

BACK: Ask for our dessert drinks

2) Pitch a Better (Table) Tent

Cardstock table tents take a beating. Plus, they’re always flying off the table. Instead, try sturdier options.

  • Class it up. Use picture frames and swap out seasonal specials, desserts, and drinks.
  • Switch to a table stand with rings and insert multiple pages that can be flipped.
  • Better yet? Ditch table tents in favour of bar and restaurant tablets that take up less space.

3) Digital Menus on Restaurant Tablets

Restaurant tablets are in high demand: 73% of today’s guests believe tech according to the 2017 Toast POS State of the Industry Report.

Unlike table tents, which only highlight a few items, restaurant tablets keep your entire menu at the table. Guests can order – and reorder – from a digital version of your menu, without waiting for a server.

As an added bonus, the best restaurant tablets automatically upsell by suggesting add-ons and extras.

Power to the People

For marketing ideas, take a second look at the people in your bar or restaurant.

4) Server Upgrade

So, restaurant tablets can automate upselling…what about your servers? Train your team to make upselling a habit.

It’s not about turning them into pushy car salesmen. When upselling is done right, guests feel special (and spend more).

For example, train servers to use the word “because”. A study by Harvard psychologist Ellen Langer revealed that when people make simple requests, they get a “yes” 60% of the time. If they give a reason and use “because”, 94% say yes.

For more research-based upselling tactics, view the Golden Book of Upselling Secrets.

5) Rethink Regulars

Chances are you’re on a first name basis with dozens of regulars. Do you reward their repeat patronage or take it for granted? A study by the Northwestern University Center for Retail Management found that 55-70% of total sales come from 12-15% of a business’s most loyal guests.

Boost loyalty with regulars – and strengthen relationships with new visitors – by launching a loyalty program. Better yet, create a mobile restaurant app that integrates with your loyalty program.

6) Host with the Most

Your most overlooked marketing resource might be your host…

  • As guests approach the host stand, the host should personally invite guests to upcoming events.
  • Better yet, the host can hand out printed invitations if it’s a bigger event.
  • While guests wait for tables, hosts can hand out bar or restaurant tablets with complimentary games and trivia.

7) Your Staff as a Sales Team

In addition to upselling current guests, your crew can bring in new patrons, too:

  • Every month, give employees $5 gift cards or coupons to hand out to friends and family.
  • Take a cue from corporate America. Gift your staff with attractive apparel with your logo – something they’ll really wear, like an Under Armour sweatshirt. Each time they rock your apparel, they’re marketing your business.
  • Improve staff performance: spotlight an employee of the month with digital signage on your TVs or restaurant tablets. Here’s how…

The Signs of Success

In-venue signage can be a marketing goldmine. No need to turn your restaurant into Times Square. Start with restaurant tablets or go big with a “photo booth” set up.

8) Digital Signage

Turn your TVs into eye-catching digital billboards. It’s simple with the right software. If you bring in tabletop bar or restaurant tablets, the software – and customizable templates – are included. In addition to TV screens, screens on the restaurant tablets can also be programmed to promote:

  • Hyper-limited time offers, like a $1.50 martini for 15 minutes
  • A surprise extension of happy hour
  • Upcoming in-venue events
  • Do you offer convenient online ordering or delivery from a company like Oddle? Alert guests it’s available
  • A free appetizer for signing up for your emails
  • Add revenue: Some venues sell ad space on their TVs and restaurant tablets to other local businesses

9) Selfie Setup

Have a bare wall? Or, one covered with outdated décor? Turn it into a selfie setup (basically a photo booth without a camera). If you run a sports bar, set out props like pom-poms, giant foam fingers, and a football helmet. Purchase a stadium wall decal for $150-$200. Include a hashtag so guests can share photos on social media. The better your selfie setup, the more likely guests will snap pics, share them, and market your business.

10) Bathroom Signage

Bathroom signage is a far cry from tech-forward restaurant tablets, but it works – especially for casual venues like pubs and breweries. Adhere frames to stalls or near sinks. Post a monthly event list, promote gift cards, or share your social media platforms.

In-Venue Events and Entertainment

Food. Drinks. And fun. Lots of fun. That’s what guests really want…

11) Guests Want an Experience

When it comes to entertainment, patrons want to be wowed. Put effort into in-venue events and you’ll be rewarded. For example, in 2017 VISA and Bond Loyalty surveyed nearly 30,000 consumers to discover that 47% of millennials have more loyalty to businesses that provide unique experiences.

  • Bring in a magician to perform card tricks at the bar.
  • Turn promotions into an immersive experience: Sports bars could offer a percentage off based on what percentage of a team color the guest is wearing.
  • Midweek events like live trivia (using restaurant tablets for easy scoring) give patrons a weeknight escape.
  • On a slow night, offer to run a live trivia event for a charity board or a business. Brand it as a “team building event” – for free.You’ll profit from food and drink sales.
  • Some bar and restaurant tablets include a digital arcade that provides on-demand entertainment 24/7.

Extra, Extra! Products to Promote In-House

Think beyond the menu with products you can market on premises.

12) Branded Goods for Sale

Add another revenue channel, and benefit from brand exposure when your logo is emblazoned on everything from mugs to totes. Plus, branded items make great loyalty program rewards. Get inspired by these ideas:

  • Pint or shot glasses, coffee mugs
  • Apparel for various price points: From basic t-shirts to nice sweatshirts
  • Other ideas: Tote bags, sunglasses, beer koozies, deluxe coasters

Consider creating a cookbook. Afraid guests will only whip up your menu at home? Regional chain Dinosaur Barbeque and storied steakhouse Smith & Wollensky don’t think so. Most big-name restaurants sell cookbooks. You could, too.

13) Free Wi-Fi

If you set it up correctly, free wi-fi for guests can be a marketing win. One way to put wi-fi to work is with 3rd party access software like Gazella. This software asks for the guest’s email address in exchange for access to your free wi-fi. Don’t forget to promote your free wi-fi on restaurant tablets or even coasters.

14) Gift Cards

Don’t just market gift cards around the holidays. Promote your bar or restaurant gift cards around Valentine’s Day and early summer for graduation and Mother’s/Father’s Day.

  • Create a gift card “bundle” like a 4-pack of $25 gift cards with a bonus $10 card.
  • Use restaurant tablets or table tents to promote gift cards.
  • Ask servers to promote the gift card bundle using the “because” upselling rule. “Would you like to purchase a gift card bundle because it’s convenient to have gift cards on hand…”
  • Many guests use gift cards themselves – that’s ok. It brings them in the door! Servers can say “…because you come here often, that $10 bonus is like getting 10% off.”

Last, But Definitely Not Least…

Capture customer feedback you can apply to your marketing plan.

15) Survey Says…

First, surveying guests build loyalty – it shows you care. Second, you gain valuable insight into the effectiveness of your marketing. The best place to survey guests? While they’re with you.

  • Include comment cards in the check holder.
  • Set up a short survey on restaurant tablets using a few of these 10 best restaurant survey questions.

Look within your own four walls for marketing opportunities. Whether it’s offering a digital version of your menu on restaurant tablets or training your staff to upsell, in-venue marketing can outperform other methods – and exceed your expectations.

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